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The usual bookshop baloney.

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The name of an author of several popular guides to organic gardening is…
Bob Flowerdew.
Tee hee etcetera.

I had to work on the third floor yesterday, not somewhere I feel particularly comfortable as it exposes my awful gaps in knowledge about both geography and art.
A man came in and asked if I had anything on so and so’s dad. Having never even heard of so and so it was even less likely that I’d have a clue about his father. People do always assume that you will know exactly what they are talking about, but it simply isn’t possible. I rarely work on the third floor, and it has usually changed by the time I next go there. Anyway, being the good bookseller that I am I was able to establish this man’s identity, but it took a wee while, and I felt stupid that I hadn’t heard of him.
Fleeting pride was mine when someone else came and said they didn’t know what they were after, but it was an artist that had something to do with Mount Fuji, and I was able to ask if it might be Hokusai. It was, and the customer was impressed. Yay me, something seeped in during the years I worked at the museum.

I usually work on 1st, with the lovely fiction, where I am calm and useful and glad. Or the ground, where the best sellers and biography’s are. Or 2nd, with all the children’s books and health and sci-fi and crime and poetry. These things I can “do”.
The art section and I aren’t wholly compatible. The bay labelled “graphic art” is divided into many sub sections and when a book is sealed and has no words on its cover, and when the computer says simply that it belongs in graphic art, how the fuck am I supposed to know if it belongs with graffiti or packaging or any one of the many other headings?

Of course the coffee shop is on 3rd now, and I felt myself become irritated by the people plucking books from the shelves and strolling into the Costa where they sat, munching on their cookies and slurping their skinny lattes. I was morphing into one of those tutting uptight bitches. Suppressing the yell:
DON’T FUCKING READ THE BOOKS WITHOUT PAYING. WE ARE NOT A LIBRARY.

And breathe.

I amused myself by shelving books in the travel section and trying to guess the country. I am fairly rubbish at it, and shelving took a while. I guessed that one place was in Italy, then Spain, before discovering it is actually a Greek island. Ho hum. I haven’t learnt anything though because I can’t recall the name of it to write here.

So, that was my weekend really, fun huh?

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3 responses »

  1. Why do they have the Costa Coffee’s if not to encourage people to browse books they intend to buy, or encourage people to look at books who might simply go for a cup of tea in a cafe somewhere else? Surely it’s in the interest of the shop for coffee drinkers to read a few pages of a book – they might decide they want to finish it, and hence buy it.

    Reply
  2. Yes, you are right. That’s why I referred to myself as “a tutting uptight bitch”. I really didn’t want to feel that way, I wanted to be all happy and smiley and glad that people were browsing,but it was the crumbs that sent me over the edge. Cookie crumbs sprinkling on the pages. NOOOO! I like my books clean and pristine when I buy them, not smeared with drips of coffee and so on.That’s also why we provide sofas and comfy seats for people to ponder and flick and browse.

    Reply
  3. Poplar Reader, you’re right. We have coffee shops to create a nice relaxed environment that’s conducive to buying books, but as a bookseller I can also bear witness to the number of people who treat the shop like a bloody library.In my last shop I was always having to retrieve piles of pastry-stained books from tables left by customers who couldn’t be bothered to put them back on the shelf. Occasionally someone would look at a book over a coffee and then buy it – but this was a rare occurrence. Worst of all was the horror of having a customer loo. In addition to shoplifters and druggies, we also had people who had ‘accidents’ in there. I only found out when the next person stormed out and start shouting at me because our toilet was so ‘disgusting’. And guess who had to get the rubber gloves on?I now worked in a bookshop with just books. Bliss!

    Reply

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